Manhattanville’s Castle Scholars Program: Creating Ethical and Socially Responsible Leaders

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Manhattanville’s Castle Scholars Program: Creating Ethical and Socially Responsible Leaders

October 29, 2015 • Anonymous

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Throughout the academic year the Castle Scholars Honors Program offers a variety of intellectually stimulating events and opportunities to its students. This semester, 10 honors’ students had the opportunity to travel to Storm King Art Center, one of the world’s leading sculpture parks.

Storm King is a 500-acre landscape scattered with impressive and intricate sculptures created by celebrated artists like Louise Bourgeois, Lynda Benglis, Louis Nevelson, and many more.

“As an open air museum, Storm King seemed the perfect spot in terms of blending cultural edification with some much-needed midterm relaxation,” explained Meghan Freeman, assistant professor of English and coordinator of the field trip. “That we could learn about and admire really fascinating and important works of contemporary sculpture while enjoying the fall weather and beautiful foliage made it an obvious choice for a Castle Scholars field trip.”

Freeman, along with Deborah Saleeby-Mulligan, assistant professor of art history, and Elizabeth Cherry, associate professor of sociology and anthropology and the director of the Castle Scholars Honors Program joined the students on the trip.

Saleeby-Mulligan shared her knowledge of art and talked about the history of Storm King as well as the work of some sculptors, Lynda Benglis in particular. This presentation was the highlight of the trip for some Castle Scholars. “What I enjoyed most about our trip was the special tour by Professor Saleeby-Mulligan,” shared Reem Ahmed ’16. “Hearing about the artists, their lives, and the exhibit made it more special and unique. It gave the art pieces more meaning and put it all in context.”

“It was an incredible thinking experience, plus the artwork was really intriguing,” said Victoria Santamorena ’17. “I usually find contemporary art baffling, but this trip made me see it in a new way. It was also fun to enjoy the fall weather, my fellow castle scholars' company, and be with some really awesome professors!”

Highly selective, the Castle Scholars Honors Program grants admission to only 10 percent of each incoming freshmen class. Its members are challenged in ways that other students are not by rigorous, intellectually stimulating, interdisciplinary seminars taught by the program’s full-time faculty. However, hard work always pays off and being a member of the program has its benefits: Castle Scholars receive priority registration privileges, permission to register up to 21 credits per semester, recognition at college-wide awards ceremonies and graduation, mentoring by program faculty, and participation in free-of-charge events and field trips. Additionally, Castle Scholars can apply for funding for ambitious and creative research projects.

“It seems to me that Castle Scholars offers a really valuable opportunity to join a community of highly-motivated student-scholars who are deeply invested in the life and culture of the college,” said Freeman. “Our Castle Scholars are so important to Manhattanville. They fulfill and further the mission of the college by pursuing academic excellence while pursuing individual passions and giving back to the community.”

Aside from offering courses every semester, the program also hosts Human Rights Awareness Day in the fall and the Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Fair in the spring, among other smaller events. These events have become increasingly popular within the Manhattanville community.
For Ahmed, being part of the program has been a rewarding experience. “The Castle Scholars’ classes are different than any other classes I've taken at Manhattanville. Even though they are more difficult and require a lot of work, I enjoy and appreciate how these courses challenge me to work harder, think critically, and explore what they have to offer,” she said.

“This program has afforded me some amazing experiences and opportunities,” echoed Santamorena, who traveled to Rome last summer with Freeman (more on that here). “I am so lucky to learn things and interact with people I wouldn't have had a chance to do otherwise.”
Faculty members involved with the program have reaped its benefits as well. “My work in the program has been tremendously rewarding for me,” said Freeman, who has been part of the program for the past two years. “It has given me the chance to share some of my current research interests with groups of engaged and interested students from a wide variety of majors.”

Next up for the Castle Scholars is Human Rights Awareness Day, an annual event celebrated in the fall semester and put together by a dedicated group of Castle Scholars. Over the years the event has become a favorite for many students, including Santamorena. “I love the fact that the Castle Scholars Program heightens students’ awareness of important global issues and tries to get students to think critically about how we can address them,” she said. “Castle Scholars has pushed me to excel academically and strive to be a leader in my community.”

Alexandra Espinal '16
Photo provided by the Castle Scholars Program